Why it mattered
Peoples Natural Gas Field welcomed a stadium record 10,116 fans to watch the second exhibition game between the Curve and their MLB affiliate, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The crowd shots during this game are jaw-dropping. Every area of the ballpark is packed. As far as the game goes, there were several former Curve standouts involved in the action. Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker all were in the starting lineup for Pittsburgh while Jose Tabata, Josh Harrison, Andy Vasquez, Kelson Brown and Stefan Welch came off the bench. But that wasn’t all the players making their return to PNG Field so let’s get into that.
Although the Curve won the game, 8-6, the pitching in an exhibition game like this is a bit tricky. The pitching was set up, for the most part, for Double-A pitchers to throw for the big league team against Double-A hitters and MLB pitchers facing the MLB hitters. Jason Grilli started for the Curve while big league arms Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson and Brandon Cumpton were addition MLB arms in Curve uniforms that day. On the Pittsburgh side, James McDonald and Mark Melancon were the only MLB pitchers in Pirates uniforms. When we see the game through that lens, the Double-A hitters hit pitchers at their level a bit better than the MLB hitters facing fellow big leaguers.
Fast-forward seven months after this game, the Pirates finished the 2013 season 94-68 and broke the franchise’s 20-year playoff drought. Just like many Pirates players did with their baseball careers, the 2013 Pirates spring boarded their historic season beginning in Altoona.
2:19 – Starling Marte lead-off single
3:12 – Jason Grilli closes out scoreless first inning
4:00 – Andrew Lambo RBI-single (Curve 1, Pirates 0)
4:19 – Adalberto Santos sacrifice fly (Curve 2, Pirates 0)
4:47 – Carlos Paulino two-run double (Curve 2, Pirates 0)
6:13 – Tony Watson fans two with the bases loaded
6:33 – Starling Marte grand slam (Curve 4, Pirates 4)
7:25 – Pedro Alvarez double
7:38 – Nathan Baker wild pitch scores Matt Curry (Curve 5, Pirates 4)
7:51 – Justin Howard RBI-single (Curve 6, Pirates 4)
8:07 – Nathan Baker wild pitch scores Adalberto Santos (Curve 7, Pirates 4)
8:18 – Mel Rojas RBI-single (Curve 8, Pirates 4)
8:49 – Brandon Cumpton escapes two-on, two-out spot with forceout
9:17 – Andy Vasquez RBI triple (Curve 8, Pirates 5)
9:35 – Stefan Welch RBI-groundout (Curve 8, Pirates 6)
9:45 – Final out
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